On 21 December 2022, the EPA held the Taiwan-US Eco-School Awards Ceremony in Yilan, showcasing mutual achievements at the same time. During the ceremony, those receiving awards as Eco-Schools included eight schools certified with a Green Flag, 23 with a silver medal, and 67 with a bronze metal. Among the awardees, Hushan Experimental Elementary School in Tainan became the first to be certified with a Permanent Green Flag, the highest honor in this initiative, as the result of eight years of continued hard work from both students and faculty.
The Taiwan EPA and the USEPA have since 2014 jointly launched the Taiwan-US Eco-School Partnership Program. In 2021 the Ministry of Education (MOE) began to participate as a collaborator, actively promoting this environmental education project in all schools and campuses across Taiwan and aiming toward sustainable development.
The ceremony was presided by an EPA’s Director General Tsung-Yung Liu who awarded respective schools with the Green flags, silver metals, and bronze metals. The highest honor of the three, the Green Flag has a two-year validity and hence requires application for recertification every two years in order to retain such honor. Once a school receives its fourth Green Flag, it is deemed a permanent Green Flag holder as acknowledgement for its long-lasting efforts to consistently put sustainability into action.
Hushan Experimental Elementary School obtained its fourth Green Flag this year and thus became the first Permanent Green Flag holder in Taiwan. With the idea of letting children take initiatives in learning at its core, the school works on fostering civic literacy and providing opportunities for kids to take charge to look after their living environment as well as conduct relevant initiatives and independent researches. And over the years its efforts in establishing an eco-campus have influenced its faculty, students, their families, and surrounding communities, showing that it truly deserves such honor.
Other awardees included Dashan Elementary School in Miaoli and Chaocuo Waldorf Education Experimental Elementary School in Yunlin, both recognized with their first Green Flag. Students in Dashan Elementary School built special beehives to observe the relationship between the ecosystems of different specifies and their environments. They even promoted such action in the local communities, urging residents to practice environment-friendly organic farming. As for ChaocuoWaldorf Education Experimental Elementary School, students have effectively solved the problem of discarded rain boots at the end of every semester by organizing a marketplace for secondhand rain boots. Moreover, via collaboration with technology firms, they have incorporated technical farming into their own curriculum and also conducted long-term projects to monitor groundwater and land subsidence, both of which are issues of high concern in Yunlin.
Micang Elementary School in Bali, New Taipei City, received its second Green Flag for its consistent work on maintaining species’ habitats on campus, promoting sustainable diets and consumption, and improving waste disposal. The school also promoted conservation of red-clawed crabs, a local species, by seeking out its habitat within the local community on the Bali left bank and subsequently creating a habitat map. Another two-time Green-Flag recipient is Daan Elementary School in Taoyuan, which tackles issues like habitat protection and water resource, improving environments and equipment of its eco-pond by joining forces with a local carp conservation group to solve the problem of fish and aquatic plants often dying in the pond. Students even went on to work with the Soil and Water Conservation Bureau (SWCB) of the Council of Agriculture to establish the campus as one of the SWCB’s outposts, providing an excellent venue for environmental education for students, faculty and community residents.
Three schools were awarded a Green Flag for the first time. They are Xinshi Elementary School in New Taipei City, Tainan Tzu-Chi Senior High School Elementary Department, and Evergreen Lily Elementary School in Pingtung County.
The kids in Xinshi Elementary School have composted food waste, turned branches left by tree thinning into award metals, and used different plant seeds collected on campus to design games as class materials. In Tainan, students at the Elementary Department of Tzu-Chi Senior High School are encouraged to protect the environment via various programs like Energy Conservation Monday, Water Conservation with One Chopstick, and Clean Plate Initiative. Last but not least, students of Evergreen Lily Elementary School are especially passionate about climate change issues as they were once victims of Typhoon Morakot. As a result, they strive to preserve the traditional wisdom and culture, which is deeply in tune with nature and ecosystems, to advocate respect for the environment, biodiversity conservation, and peaceful coexistence with the world as the key for sustainable development.
The award ceremony began with a performance by the first-time Green-Flag recipient Evergreen Lily Elementary School as students, dressed in traditional indigenous attire, sang from the soul. With stalls and corresponding posters set up at the venue, the awarded schools demonstrated their respective achievements and special features. Then in the afternoon representatives from schools certified with the Green Flag for the first-time shared details of their journeys to becoming eco schools, which served as a great opportunity to exchange and learn among schools. There was also a musical seminar, where the healing power of music helped participants to appreciate the environment, bringing a beautiful end to the event.
Director General Liu noted that Taiwan has been actively promoting eco-schools, a global environmental education initiative. Now there are a total of 590 schools in Taiwan participating in the eco -school initiative. Some 400 of them have become certified, including 16 Green Flags, 148 silver metals, and 242 bronze metals. This fully showcases how environmental education has been deeply incorporated on all campuses and even extended further into families and communities.
The EPA will continue to keep Taiwan’s eco-schools aligned with the global trend while urging groups of diverse backgrounds to participate and integrating various resources so that more schools can join the eco-school program. Besides linking up the classroom with environmental measures, future efforts will aim to bring the concept of eco-schools beyond the campus and into different areas of society and encourage all to work toward building a sustainable future.
Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, December 2022
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)